JOE ROOT is aiming high after his England side secured a 3-1 Test series victory over South Africa in Johannesburg on Tuesday.

The Yorkshire batsman was delighted with England’s recovery from an early 1-0 deficit after losing the Boxing Day Test at Centurion Park. Victories at Cape Town, Port Elizabeth and inside four days - by 191 runs - at the Wanderers followed.

Performances were spread around across the series.

Ben Stokes was named player of the series, but more importantly, young guns Dom Sibley (aged 24) and Ollie Pope (22) both scored their maiden hundreds and Dom Bess (22) claimed a maiden five-wicket haul. Opener Zak Crawley (21) also looked at home. That is a huge reason why captain Root was so ebullient about the future.

“I couldn’t be more proud of the group,” he said. “We’ve been through a lot on this tour (illness in the camp). To come back from Centurion in the manner we have and to finish it off in style is pleasing.

“We’ve made it very clear how we want to play moving forward, and the guys have bought into that.

“We know it won’t happen overnight, and won’t necessarily be straightforward all the time. But as long as it keeps going on an upward curve, as long as we take our chances when we get them and are always looking to push each other forward and improve, then the sky is the limit for this group.”

This was only England’s second away series success in four years, the other being Sri Lanka last winter. England end this winter with a two-match series in the same destination in March.

“We’ve done extremely well in the last three games, but in the last three years we’ve not been consistent enough. We’re very open about that,” said Root. “We go to Sri Lanka next, and then there’s six big games at home (this summer against the West Indies and Pakistan). It’s a great opportunity to string a number of good performances together.

“We’ll try not to look too far ahead, but we’ve got a great template to work around. It’s nice to see it falling into place.”

Fast bowler Mark Wood was the standout performer in Jo’burg, where South Africa failed to chase 466, falling from 181-2 to 274 all out during the fourth day. He scooped the player of the match award thanks to nine wickets and scores of 35 not out and 18 down the order.

This was new head coach Chris Silverwood’s first series victory in charge. The former White Rose seamer tasted defeat at the first time of asking, going down 1-0 in New Zealand before Christmas.

“We started something in New Zealand, and that has built,” he said. “The blueprint - big first-innings runs and learning to take 20 wickets with the Kookaburra (ball).

“To see it come to fruition here is obviously really pleasing. Equally, to see the youngsters coming through and putting their hands up is pleasing.”

Silverwood’s immediate attention switches to white ball cricket, with England playing three one-day and as many T20 internationals between Tuesday, February 4 and Sunday, February 16. There are two one-day warm-up matches on Friday and Saturday.

Yorkshire’s Dawid Malan is in both squads, as is Jonny Bairstow and Adil Rashid. Root will stay on for the ODIs, though he has been left out of the T20 squad, which will begin preparations for the T20 World Cup in Australia next winter.

The two Sri Lanka Tests start on March 19 and March 27.